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Carmelo Anthony showing well-rounded leadership form

Jason Kidd and Carmelo Anthony shake hands on

Jason Kidd and Carmelo Anthony shake hands on the court during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Madison Square Garden. (Nov. 4, 2012) Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The basketball player formerly known as "Melo Anthony" became Carmelo Anthony again. But instead of his scoring, his defense and hustle helped ignite the Garden crowd and his Knicks teammates Sunday.

In the first quarter of the Knicks' 100-84 win over Philadelphia, Anthony blocked a shot in transition, then jumped over the 76ers' bench and into the second row to save the ball from going out of bounds.

"Just trying to lead the pack in other areas other than scoring," Anthony said. "I think when my teammates see me out there doing the little things to help us win, they feed off of that energy, they feed off of that momentum. They do the same thing. It kind of works hand in hand."

This is what most fans have hoped Anthony would become since he was acquired from Denver: a team-oriented player who finds different ways to put the Knicks on his back.

Anthony, who went back to being "Carmelo Anthony" after the Garden P.A. announcer called him "Melo Anthony" in Friday's opening-night win over Miami, seems as comfortable as he ever has been as a Knick.

After Friday's win, Anthony said he was "super-focused." He had a strong offensive game that night, scoring 30 points -- but it took 28 shots. He was more efficient Sunday, needing only 18 field-goal attempts to score 27 points.

But it was his overall play -- including two blocks, a steal and a dive onto the floor for a loose ball in the third quarter -- that were most impressive.

"When you have your leader diving for balls, going into the stands -- he had a lot of great defensive plays," Jason Kidd said. "He's not just an offensive player. He's displaying it."

Mike Woodson said he didn't think it was anything new for Anthony.

"I thought he was doing that last year," he said. "It's not just Melo. Everybody's got to do that for us to be a good team. His job is to block shots, take charges, loose balls -- get on the floor. Everybody's got to do that."

It seems like a new and improved Anthony to everyone else. It could be a byproduct of the combination of spending the summer on the Olympic team and Anthony having more trust in all the veteran teammates around him.

"I'm just trying to do little things to make this team better," he said. "That's it. Everybody in the world knows I can score the basketball with the best of them. For me to come out here and do something else other than score the basketball, it makes us that much better of a basketball team."

New York Sports